Spades: Card Game Rules

Spades first appeared in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the late 1940s and spread across the region quickly. The game was enjoyed by soldiers in WW2 and remains one of the most popular card games on the internet and otherwise.

If you’re looking to get into playing the Spades card game, it should be as easy as going through this guide.

Spades: Card Game Rules 

Spades involves two players going against two. Teammates sit across from each other, and the deal and play happen clockwise. A standard deck of cards is used, with the card ranking being the same as in Poker.

When the dealer is picked, the dealer will need to shuffle the cards and deal them clockwise, beginning from the player to their left. After every player has 13 cards, the player may bid.

Bidding is announcing the number of tricks a player expects to take. Teammates must add up the bids they made, and teams must try to win the total number of tricks they bid.

Players can bid anything between 0 and 13, but they may not pass or alter their bid once made. A “0” bid is called a nil bid, and it is a declaration that the player intends to win zero tricks in the play. They earn a bonus if they pull it off but get a penalty if they fail.

Spades: The Play

The game begins with the player on the dealer’s left playing any card except a spade. Players must then try to follow suit, but they may play any card if they don’t have any cards in the suit.

The highest card in the leading suit wins the trick. If the trick involves Spades, the player with the highest Spade wins. When a player wins a trick, they lead the next one.

It’s important to follow the rules of “breaking Spades.” Players cannot lead with Spades until a) they don’t have cards of any other suit in hand or b) some other player has played a Spade card already.

Spades: Scoring

Players that win at least as many tricks as they bid score ten times the points than their bid. Any extra tricks won – called overtricks or “bags” – account for an extra point each.

In other words, if player A bid five tricks and won six, they would have won fifty-one points.

Players who don’t win at least the number of tricks they bid lose ten points per trick. In other words, if player B bid five tricks and won four, they would lose fifty points.

You must always bear the sandbagging rule in mind. A team that takes ten “bags” gets a penalty of 100 points. If the team takes ten more bags again, they get the penalty again.

If a player pulls off a nil bid, they earn their team 100 points. The 100 points are separate from the points the player’s teammate may win or lose in that play. If a nil bidder takes even one trick, their team loses 100 points.

The tricks won by nil bidders count as bags for the team, which makes it riskier to make a nil bid. For this reason, most players only agree to allow nil bids when a team is losing by 100 or more points.

The first team to 500 points wins. If both teams reach 500 points in the same deal, the team with more points wins. If both teams have the same scores, they may play another round to decide the winner of the game.

Spades: Playing and Bidding Strategy

Here’s a list of pointers to help you out through the game:

  • Firmly decide on the number of tricks you want to bid on. If you’ve bid high, you will need to play aggressively. If you’ve bid low, you will need to play prudently.
  • If you have a lot of cards in the Spades suit, bidding zero is not the way to go. Your opponents will likely attempt a run on the trump suit, and your partner will not be able to protect you.
  • If you have three cards of the same suit, bidding zero makes no sense. You need a small deck of cards with only a few difficult cards if you want to bid nil and win.
  • When your partner bids zero, you will need to toss your high cards to help their chances of winning. Keep a close eye on your partner’s cards since a hundred-point bonus will put the team more ahead than winning a few tricks.


The best way to get a hang of the game is to play it. You can play Spades online for free at If you’d like to try playing a multiplayer version against other people, try Spades on Solitaired. And of course, try playing with friends on your next get together!

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Rupesh Kumar

First, I am an online marketing professional, as well as a night time gamer with a wide array of interests. Aside from constantly writing about games, I also enjoy writing about my other hobbies such as fitness, cooking, home DIY projects and travel. Contact me at

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